The women-friendly IT industry

I recently stumbled upon Krish Ashok’s blog, and wondered how I could possibly have missed it all this while. In yet another super-entertaining and food-for-thought post, he looks at the dismal state of women in the IT industry, supposedly a highly gender-neutral one. Not having worked in anything remotely tech related myself, and with very few friends from that line, I don’t have any insider info. But yes, it is common knowledge that the (in many cases needless) late-working culture of the industry does impact women much more than it does men. Relatively few women can manage past the age of 30, once claims of marriage and children set in.

Krish Ashok’s post brings in many other aspects of the working culture in this supposedly women-friendly industry. Go read, and tear your hair out on whether to laugh yourself silly over his hilariously worded post, or despair at the state of things!

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8 Comments

  1. Apu,
    I work in VLSI/chip design where the number of women engineers is dismal. I mean the software industry looks like an English lit/women’s studies class compared to us ๐Ÿ™‚

    All of Krish’s sentiments have been expressed to me by my friends in s/w. I loved his post too.

  2. that was a that was a funny way of putting it ๐Ÿ™‚
    But whats that to do it – is the entry itself poor (usu. women are not encouraged towards ‘hard’ subjects even if they are not discouraged?) or do they drop out due to family pressures?

  3. I guess it is a combination of both: poor entry n dropping out coz of –

    1. When one starts an Engineering course(at the age of 18/19 years) choice of a field is not always one’s own. And girls are not really encouraged to enter a field which, as ggop pointed out, is already male-dominant.

    2. # of jobs available – Many women want the safety of a ‘job’ when they graduate. The companies which work on VLSI/chip design in India are a handful and they too hire a dismal number of engineers per year. S/w engineering offers a safer bet hence the rush.

    3. The learning curve as well as the growth curve in s/w is steeper(talking of promotions, onsite opportunities(?!) etc) as compared to VLSI. Many women are forced to take up lesser challenging positions as the responsibilities grow(family/work balance).
    I personally feel that such fields demand more specialization and training(graduate studies/a few years’ work experience) than just a Bachelors and many many find the long path daunting, considering even getting their BE is such a big deal in many traditional families.

    4. If what Kris said in his post is true(for s/w), it makes sense that there are even less er hopes for women to break the glass ceiling in fields where the gender ratio is skewed against them. I guess it could also be a vicious circle – less # of women in VLSI pull even lesser # of women.

    And yes, VLSI is feared/revered equally by men and women engineers:)!

  4. Sparsh – I agree. You have given a number of reasons above. Unlike software, the curriculum in most universities in India, a bachelors degree is not going to help you pave out a career in semiconductors/VLSI. If you do take the GATE exam or pursue a Masters abroad, it opens up many avenues.

    But the pressure to get “settled” is high in your early-mid twenties.

  5. Apu: Many women also choose the path of getting an MBA, or an academic career path. They afford very different life styles and options to women and are perfectly legitimate. The questions raised by Krishashok are raised in those careers too but the opportunity of a greater multiplier effect is far greater as well. (I speak as a woman, an electronics engineer who chose to be an engineer, who had the enviable choice of a Master’s in Artificial Intelligence in the US or an MBA in IIM Ahmedabad and who chose the latter and has therefore the abiliity to comment on the topic with some personal experience). I have just completed a non-technical PhD because as life grows it opens our eyes to new possibilities and above all that should be the function of education. When I interviewed a senior health official of the HHS department in the US, he asked if I were an engineer. I asked him how he knew. He said my way of framing problems was not like social scientists but like engineers, my ontological stance also not like social scientists, nor my epistemology. Enough said I think…

  6. Corrigendum: Greater VALUE multiplier…

  7. hmm Shefaly, thanks for the comment, but I am a little unclear – are you saying in those disciplines, once women face up to those issues and succeed, their cases are more likely to make a difference to the careers of other women and to the way the industry functions ?

  8. Hi, don’t equate women with marriage and children. Many women do not plan on havng children or perhaps not even being married.

    It should be ‘women who happen to be mothers’. Actually even mothers are able to cope with the demands of I.T. It’s just a male fantasy that they can’t.


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